Late last night word trickled out that the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) was finalised. This trade agreement represents many of the darkest wishes of multi-national corporations intent on using regulatory capture in the United States to drive the global trade agenda. The text of the agreement is still secret and will not be released for perhaps another month.
"Civil society has been kept at arms length from the negotiations, with access to the draft texts only being granted to major corporations. The fact that the text is not immediately available gives us some insight into just how bad this agreement could be," said Simon Frew, President of the Pirate Party. "We demand that the text be immediately published so the Australian people can see what has been negotiated on our behalf and judge whether this is something that will benefit all of us or just a wealthy few."
Much of what is known about the TPP has been exposed through leaks, painting a bleak picture for the future of signatory countries. The leaks indicate draconian intellectual property provisions, investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) tribunals and poor environmental and worker protections.
A recent study commissioned by the Queensland Government has found irreversible damage has been caused by the release of toxic chemicals and gases into the local environment near Chinchilla. The study indicates that the experimental plant run by Linc Energy is by far the most likely culprit. The Pirate Party, whose official policy includes a moratorium on coal seam gas (“CSG”) extraction, believes that this damage is unacceptable and that all CSG extraction should cease until the risks involved are properly understood and protected against.
The Pirate Party is also concerned (although unsurprised) that, while the study has been released to Linc Energy, it has not yet been released to nearby farmers and landowners. Notes released by the ABC detail “explosive levels” of hydrogen, and also highlights that four researchers were hospitalised while testing at the site, most likely due to elevated levels of carbon monoxide. The Pirate Party believes that landowners must immediately be made aware of the presence of dangerous levels of toxic chemicals and gases.
Pirate Party Deputy President Michael Keating commented: “State and federal government preference for mining over food production is dangerously shortsighted. Coal seam gas extraction risks agricultural land for short-term economic benefit and, as this report demonstrates, the risk is just not worth it. With a growing population and increasing risk of drought from climate change, gambling with agricultural land is folly.”
“This one incident has impacted hundreds of square kilometres of agricultural land. We cannot afford to keep losing prime farming land to these experiments, not when the lives and fortunes of our farmers are at risk. Our governments must step in to secure the safety and livelihood of our farmers,” Mr Keating continued.
The Pirate Party remains committed to the environment and ecology of Australia, and supporting the livelihoods of Australian farmers.
Today is a dark day for Australians and the Internet as the Labor Party caucus approves data retention and the Coalition prepares to introduce misguided new legislation aimed at combatting online copyright infringement. To encourage Australians to join us in fighting back, the Pirate Party is offering pay-what-you-want memberships with no minimum amount at http://pirateparty.org.au/join
Pirate Party Deputy President Simon Frew said: “The Government and the Opposition have effectively declared war on the Internet and war on our privacy. The Labor Party has rolled over on data retention, meaning all Australians will be subjected to mass surveillance until this appalling legislation is repealed.
“At the same time, legislation to give copyright holders an easy mechanism to get websites blocked will mean we are subjected to a censorship regime. The Government has opted for a long and pointless game of whack-a-mole — as soon as a site is blocked it will pop up in several new places and copyright infringement will continue.
The Pirate Party wishes to draw attention to the TPP ministerial meeting to occur tomorrow, 25 October 2014, and continues to reiterate the demand that the draconian text be made public.
Tomorrow, 25 October 2014, Sydney will host a meeting of trade ministers from countries currently negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). The aim of the meeting is to conclude the “basic elements of the agreement before the end of the year,” despite the last four years of negotiations being fraught with fundamental disagreements. Of enormous public concern is the lack of transparency surrounding what is intended to be a comprehensive agreement: at this point in time, no drafts have been officially made available for public comment or consideration.
“Recent leaks show the negotiators have learned nothing from the public outcry over previous leaks. The negotiators are pushing ahead with paradigm-shifting intellectual property provisions in the interests of entrenched American corporations, going above the sovereign parliaments of their own nations. Once the document is signed, it is very unlikely to be changed, and very likely to be waved through Parliament with limited oversight. This is legislation through the backdoor; corporate capture of democracy,” commented Brendan Molloy, Pirate Party President.
“It is beyond time that the text was made public. We have seen the content of it through leaks, and what we have seen would have a significantly negative impact on everything from freedom of expression, access to knowledge and access to medicine, all in the interests of American corporations. This agreement is not in the national interest.”
The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) has recommended that Parliament pass the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Bill 2014, despite acknowledging the inadequate amount of time given for public consultation. The Committee recommended a number of amendments that primarily concern improving oversight of the additional powers being granted to law enforcement and intelligence agencies, but also clarifying certain terms and reducing the allowable period for detention without notification and delayed notification search warrants. However, no substantial amendments have been recommended.
Pirate Party President Brendan Molloy commented: “Increased oversight will cushion the impact of these reforms, but not in any significant way. We’re still going to see people being detained for up to two hours without notification of family members or other persons. We’re still going to have search warrants where the occupier of the premises won’t be informed that their premises have been searched for up to 12 months afterwards. We’re still going to have people visiting certain areas declared guilty until proven innocent. And we’re still going to see the thresholds for law enforcement and intelligence agency action reduced.